Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt was a guest on NBC’s Meet the Press for the fourth time this year Sunday.
During most of his eight-minute plus appearance, Blunt was quizzed by moderator Chuck Todd about the latest federal court decision out of Texas striking down the entire Affordable Care Act. He also commented on reports of an investigation into President Trump’s inauguration committee and his vote as a Congressman in 1998 to impeach President Clinton.
Blunt dismissed a call by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for Congress to intervene in the healthcare lawsuit after the judge’s decision, saying it would amount to Congress improperly telling the circuit court what to do.
Before Blunt’s appearance on Meet the Press, Republicans, who tried to repeal the law in 2017, had reacted with relative silence after the ruling was issued. The health care law now receives a favorable rating in polls after a majority of respondents expressed disapproval in the past. A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, AshLee Strong said, “The House was not a party to this suit, and we are reviewing the ruling and its impact.”
Blunt declined to say if the judge in the case had exercised judicial activism. Moderator Todd stated that the judge’s act of determining that a tax penalty for not buying health insurance was not a tax was “the definition of a judge writing legislation.” Blunt responded by saying the action wouldn’t justify legislators acting like judges. He shied away from acknowledging the judge had overstepped his authority, instead noting that the ruling has no immediate impact. He said it would either be dismissed, or the court case would go through a long process before an outcome would be decided.
Blunt predicted the issue would be used by for political purposes. “Health care will be used as a political issue way beyond the ramifications of one district judge making a ruling that has no immediate impact,” said Blunt.
Todd quoted a tweet from President Trump who called the ruling “great news for America” and asked if Blunt agreed with the President’s assessment. The two-term Senator didn’t directly respond to the question but declared that the health care law was poorly planned and implemented, and has negatively impacted families with insurance they don’t need and deductibles they can’t afford.
When asked why Republicans haven’t come up with their own health care plan, Blunt mentioned that he introduced the feature in the current law that allows individuals to remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26. He claimed the provision had insured more people than any other aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
Todd observed that Republicans couldn’t seem to unite on any health care idea. Blunt responded by saying health care is a difficult issue. He claimed that “Medicare for all”, a policy being promoted in Democratic circles would never happen, proclaiming “Medicare for all would wind up meaning Medicare for none.”
Blunt also declined to say whether the health care lawsuit, which was filed with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s backing, was called for. He noted that Hawley’s involvement in the suit didn’t stop Hawley from winning election to the Senate.
He said Senators would now face the task of drafting health care policies, although he admitted the framework of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual marketplace, would remain intact. Blunt championed a rule put in place by the Trump administration paving the way for associated health plans. Associated health plans allow small businesses to band together to obtain healthcare coverage as if they were a single large employer.
The native of southwest Missouri’s Niangua said he would not support adding one cent to the tax penalty for not purchasing health coverage that was stripped out last year by Congress. The judge in the latest case ruled the requirement to buy healthcare was unconstitutional because the tax had been zeroed out. Blunt stated that the tax provision in the health care law was a stretch from the beginning and dismissed the notion of adding a one-cent penalty now. “Coming up with a one-cent gimmick would not have much appeal to me,” Blunt said.
Todd brought up reports that the Trump inaugural committee is under investigation and asked Blunt, who chaired the congressional committee that planned the event, what he knew about the Trump inaugural operation. Blunt said, “I have no idea what they did.” Federal prosecutors in New York are reportedly probing whether President Trump’s inaugural committee misspent donated funds from the record $107 million it received for the 2017 event.
The Meet the Press moderator finished his interview with Senator Blunt by asking if he regretted voting for all four charges of impeachment against President Bill Clinton in 1998. “Not as much as I’m sure he regrets lying to the grand jury,” said Blunt.
Blunt admitted in hindsight that Congress may have wrongly rushed to impeach Clinton, who was acquitted by the Senate after being charged with two articles by the House. He also predicted that the incoming Democratically controlled House would be punished by voters if it investigates President Trump for impeachable offenses. “My advice would be legislate, don’t investigate if you want to be rewarded with the continued opportunity to be in control of the House of Representatives,” Blunt said.
In addition to four appearances on Meet the Press, Blunt who is a member of the Republican majority leadership in the Senate has been a guest on FOX News Sunday, FOX Sunday Morning Futures, ABC’s This Week and CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper this year.